Share and Follow
Viral posts falsely claim the Mayo Clinic recently updated its website to say hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat COVID-19. Here’s what we can VERIFY.
The use of hydroxychloroquine, which is also known as Plaquenil, as a treatment for COVID-19 has been a hotly debated topic since the early months of the pandemic.
Though some people have claimed the drug normally used to treat autoimmune conditions is an effective COVID-19 treatment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other public health agencies do not recommend hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients.
A viral post with millions of views shared in late September claims the Mayo Clinic, which is a well-respected nonprofit medical center, “quietly” updated its website to say hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Did the Mayo Clinic “quietly” update its website to say hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat COVID-19 patients?
No, the Mayo Clinic did not “quietly” update its website to say hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
WHAT WE FOUND
A Mayo Clinic webpage that has since been deleted did include outdated information about hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. But that language was not recently added to the webpage, as the viral post claims.
The Mayo Clinic does not currently endorse hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, either.
Using Wayback Machine, VERIFY searched for archived versions of the webpage. We found it first mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 in May 2020 – not September 2023, as the post claims. This mirrored FDA guidance at the time.
An archived webpage from May 2020 noted that hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat certain autoimmune diseases and malaria, “may also be used to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) in certain hospitalized patients.”
At the time, the FDA authorized hydroxychloroquine for emergency use in treating COVID-19.
In June 2020, a line was added to the webpage that said hydroxychloroquine “should only be used for COVID-19 in a hospital or during clinical trials.”
The FDA revoked its emergency use authorization (EUA) of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment for some hospitalized COVID-19 patients that same month.
VERIFY found the Mayo Clinic webpage still said hydroxychloroquine may be used to treat COVID-19 in some hospitalized patients as of Sept. 25, 2023. But the webpage was removed one day later after posts about it began circulating online.
A spokesperson for the Mayo Clinic told VERIFY the hospital system is “aware that inaccurate information about hydroxychloroquine” was included on its webpage, adding that an outside vendor provided the content.
“Hydroxychloroquine is not part of Mayo Clinic’s prescribed treatment algorithms for COVID-19. Mayo Clinic does not endorse the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients,” the spokesperson said. “We have removed the web page and are updating it to make it clear that hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 patients. We are also taking steps to prevent the introduction of errors in content supplied to Mayo Clinic for use on our web pages.”
The outdated webpage about hydroxychloroquine has since been replaced with an article written by Mayo Clinic staff that clarifies the drug is “not recommend as a treatment” for COVID-19 and “doesn’t prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Large clinical trials found that hydroxychloroquine did not reduce deaths or the need for mechanical ventilation in COVID-19 patients, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
People who take hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 may also have an increased risk of heart rhythm problems, blood and lymph disorders, kidney injury, and liver problems and failure, the WHO says.